Armour In Imperial Iranian Army

Befor the Islamic revolution in 1979, Imperial Iranian Armored units were supplied with medium and light tanks of American and British origin, and about 1200 Brithish-maded Chieftain tanks were being delivered to augment the 780 in the inventory. Armored personnel carriers were from the United States and the Soviet Union and antitank missiles from the United States and France.

In early 1935 Skoda and CKD received an order from Imperial Iranian Army for 100 tanks. This was probably the best light tank of its time period, and it is owes to its appearance to the Reza Shah. The order was very large for the time. Those tanks were produce in tropical version specially for Iran with improved cooling and ventilation systems. By November 1936 the order was completed and sent to the Iran. TNH tanks served in 1st and 2nd Divisions of Iranian Army (Each division was equipped with 25 TNH tanks). These tanks were on active duty up to 1947. In the spring of 1938 negotiations began for the delivery to Iran of the next 200 tanks but eventually it was stopped by the german invasion.

During the modernization plant after the World War II, the army received 15 Sherman tanks in 1951, and about 50 M-24 light tanks between 1954 and 1956. Newly acquired Sherman tanks played a key role in the Coup leading to the fall of Mossadeq.

In 1958 the army had by now trebled its tanks, having received about 200 patton tanks.

In 1967 a contract for non-sensitive arms purchases was completed with the Soviet Union, the first time that the US had accepted arms procurement by a state militarily allied with it. The Iranian army received about 100 Soviet BTR-152 armoured personnel carriers.

In 1971, Iran placed an order with Royal Ordnance (RO) of the UK for 707 Chieftains of which 73 were Mk. 3/3(P) (The P standing for Persia) and the remainer Mk. 5/5(P) with a number of armoured recovery vehicles (ARV) and armoured vehicle-launched bridges (AVLB) based on the Chieftain MBT chassis, all of which were delivered by early 1978. Most of these were built by RO Leeds, subsequently taken over by Vickers Defence Systems, which built all the ARVs. Iran also took delivery of 187 improved Chieftains called "Shir Iran 1" (The FV4030/1 a development of the Chieftain Mk 5 used by the British Army) which carried more fuel, had improved mine protection and additional shock absorbers as well as electronic control of the David Brown Defence Equipment TN12 transmission, for it's operational needs. In all, 187 of the FV4030/1, were supplied.

A further order for 125 Shir Iran 1 (FV4030/2s), 1225 Shir Iran 2 (FV4030/3s) MBTs, and 71 armoured recovery vehicles (ARV) followed in 1974-5 for delivery from 1980 - but the order was cancelled in 1979 after the Islamic Revolution and before deliveries could begin from Royal Ordnance Leeds.
If the Shir 2 MBTs had been delivered, the Iranian Army would have had the best-protected MBT in the region because the hull and turret incorporated the advanced Chobham armour system for a high level of battlefield protection over the frontal arc. In 1979, Jordan bought 274 Shir 1 MBTs, designated the Khalid. After the Iranian Revolution the "Shir Iran 2" project was taken over by the British Army and the end result was Challenger later redesigned as Challenger 1 in service with the British Army since 1983.

In 1979 the main Armored Unites of Imperial Iranian Army were:

  • 16th Armored Division - Ghazvin
  • 81th Armored Division - Kermanshah
  • 92th Armored Division - Khuzestan (The biggest Division in Midle-east)
  • 88th Armored Division - Sistan
  • 37th Armored Brigade - Shiraz
  • The 1th and 2th Infantry Imperial Guard Division and even 77th Infantry Division of Khorasan had their armored unites too.

Tanks - (LT and MBT)
1971
1974
1976
1977
1979
Scorpion Light Tank      
250
250
M-47, M-47M Middle Battle Tank
400
400
400
400
160
M-48, M-48A5 Middle Battle Tank    
240
M-60A1 Middle Battle Tank
460
460
460
460
460
Shir1(Chieftain) Mark 3/5 Middle Battle Tank
order
60
500
760
875
Armored Personnel Carriers - (APC)
1971
1974
1976
1977
1979
M-8 Armoured Car
100
     
32
M-20 Armoured Car
140
     
48
Ferret Armoured Scout Car  
/
/
100
100
Fox Armoured Scout Car    
order
M-113, M-113A1 APC
300
325
564
575
575
BTR-40 APC  
1425
1425
1425
1425
BTR-50 APC
270
BTR-60 APC
300
BTR-152 APC  
BMP-1 AIFV      
order
x
M-557 Command Vehicle      
order
x
Armoured Recovery Vehicles (ARV)          
M-578 Light Armoured Recovery Vehicle        
x

* Some M-113 APC are with TOW Missiles

EX- Euipment:


Major Equipment On Order:

  • Shir1 (Chieftain) Tanks - 1977 (1220)
  • Shir2 (Chieftain) Tanks -1979 (1297)
  • Scorpion Tanks - 1979 (110)
  • M-113A1 APC - 1979 (108)
  • BMP-1 AIFV - 1979 (x)

Shir Iran 1 (Chieftain Mk.5) MBT - UK Iran took delivery of 187 improved Chieftains called "Shir Iran 1"

(The FV4030/1 a development of the Chieftain Mk 5 used by the British Army) which carried more fuel, had improved mine protection and additional shock absorbers as well as electronic control of the David Brown Defence Equipment TN12 transmission, for it's operational needs.

  • Armament: 1-120 mm rifled main gun, 1x7.62mm MG coaxial, 1x7.62mm MG on commander's cupola.
  • Hull length: 7.52 m, Hull width: 3.5 m (with skirts)
  • Height: 2.9 m.
  • Weight: 55 tons (combat)
  • Crew: 4
  • Max speed: 48 km/h
  • Max range (internal fuel): up to 500 km on road

Shir Iran 2 (Challenger 1) MBT - UK Shir/Iran 2 originally planned for Imperial Iranian forces.

After the Iranian revolution, taken over by the British Army. It has much more powerful engine than the Chieftain and equipped with excellent Chobham Armor. Challenger 1 took part in Operation Desert Storm (1991) where the Iraqi forces failed to take a single vehicle out of combat while Challenger destroyed roughly 300 Iraqi tanks.

Standard equipment includes thermal sights, gun stabilization NBC system as well as mounting points for external fuel tanks at the rear and Combat Dozer Blade at the front.

  • Armament: 1-120mm long L11A5 gun, 2x7.62mm MG, 2x5 barrel smoke discharge's
  • Power Train: Perkins Engines (Shrewsbury) Condor V-12, 12 cyl diesel, coupled to David Brown Vehicle Transmission TN37.
  • Max Speed: 34.8 mph
  • Max Range: 279 miles
  • Crew: 3
  • Weight: 68 tons


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